Revenge Travel is here: Is travel retail ready?

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

By Marco Passoni

Signs of travel recovery are all around us. This is good news for stakeholders across the industry and for travel retail especially: This ‘Revenge Travel’ is a shining opportunity to drive recovery, but is it one which the market is poised and ready to seize?

I am not completely convinced.

Evidence of the recovery is in headlines around the world. Recent data from ForwardKeys showed that inbound traffic in the USA is spiking, with a 93% increase in six weeks. The source markets range from Canada and Brazil to Germany and Japan, which demonstrates the global nature of this recovery.

Similar trends can be seen in the USA’s outbound international travel market, which currently sits 5% short of the pre-pandemic levels seen in 2019. Once again, the destination markets reflect a global outlook, with Canada and Mexico joined by the UK and Italy near the top of the list.

Similar trends can be seen in Europe, where travel demand this year is set to reach 70% of 2019 levels. That is good news, especially when one considers that is comes in the context of uncertainty caused by rising fuel and living costs, the war in Ukraine, lingering Covid concerns and the ongoing flight debacle.

The resiliency of travel recovery in the face of adversity is good news for travel retail. This ‘Revenge Travel’ reflects the ‘Revenge Shopping’ that was seen in many places

The resiliency of travel recovery in the face of adversity is good news for travel retail. This ‘Revenge Travel’ reflects the ‘Revenge Shopping’ that was seen in many places when lockdowns first lifted. There is no reason why revenge travel should not also lead to revenge shopping in travel retail.

I am not along in thinking this; there is plenty of evidence of travel retail stakeholders preparing for a potent rebound.

New stores and concepts are being unveiled across the industry and it is heartening to see. Just recently, Lotte Duty Free (whose home market is still lagging behind in recovery) has launched the new luxury jewellery brand Messika in its stores. Dufry has also just announced a new contract at Brazil’s Belo Horizante Airport and Nuxe has launched a high-profile promotion at Lyon and Geneva airports. All of this is in the last couple of weeks – that is a clear sign of hope from the industry.

There are new stores too. Fashion brand Windsor has opened at Munich Airport, Aelia Duty Free has unveiled a new Queenstown Airport store and the first A|X Armani Exchange store has debuted at Copenhagen Airport. Leading luxury brands are getting in on the act too: Dolce & Gabbana opened a ‘hometown’ airport store at Milan Malpensa earlier this year and Moncler has recently revealed its new store at Frankfurt Airport.

New stores and concepts are being unveiled across the industry and it is heartening to see

We are also seeing new brands such as Acetaia Malpighi, which we at 2.0 & Partners are delighted to be bringing into this vibrant market.

So, there can be no doubt that the industry is alive to the opportunity and keen to embrace it – but is travel retail truly ready to grasp the potential in front of it?

To do so requires ground-breaking originality and the creation of a unique and new experience for shoppers. It requires original, outside-the-box thinking and the willingness to embrace a new way of doing things.

There is lots of newness appearing, but is it arriving in a new way? I recently discussed my journey through Rome’s FCO Airport and my experience of the line between newness and innovation.

Throughout the pandemic we have had much discussion of big, fresh ideas and concepts. We all know these are needed. But, perhaps, we need to be swifter about bringing them to life.

Everyone in travel retail needs to be willing to take the step and not just introduce or open something new, but to do it in a new and exciting way. Revenge travel is certainly a huge opportunity, and it is right in front of us – but it must be actively seized.

Marco Passoni has decades of experience in the travel retail sector. He has spent the majority of his career in senior leader positions throughout the market, including a 12-year tenure as CEO of a leading international Duty Free distribution company and a further 8 years running a retail firm that operated fashion mono-brand stores in several international airports.
Today, as Senior Executive VP and founding partner of 2.0 & Partners, he leads the company’s efforts in developing and innovating services which create new opportunities and partnerships for all members of the travel retail Trinity. A former elite-level sailor, with a World Championship to his name, Marco now spends much of his time airside, experiencing the changing travel retail industry first-hand, to better guide partners and clients on the best way to do business in this vibrant and unique market.